Kinsearching September 5, 2010




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     As we relax and have fun during this Labor Day weekend, we tend to forget how much work was required in the daily lives of our ancestors. According to page xxii of the introduction to the bestseller, LADIES OF LIBERTY: THE WOMEN WHO SHAPED OUR NATION by Cokie Roberts (New York: Harper Perennial edition, 2008), “Almost all Americans—ninety percent—worked on farms in 1790.” Hard work for them was commonplace since many chores had to be done in a timely manner in order to survive. Not only did they have to feed themselves--they had to provide for their animals, too.

     After a break of several weeks, we resume with selected data regarding domestic animals found in the publication by the U. S. Congress, {House of Representatives} REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF PATENTS FOR THE YEAR 1853. AGRICULTURE (Washington: A. O. P. Nicholson, Printer, 1854). Like the material in Kinsearching columns dated 3 January and 18 April 2010, the following information from condensed correspondence pertains to "horses, asses, and mules." (Surnames are in all-caps for emphasis and sometimes punctuation is added for clarity.)

     Page 35 – John EICHAR of Greensburgh, Westmoreland Co., PA, writes: "We have but very few thorough-bred horses in this county. The only stock of importance is that from the ‘John Marshall,’ which was sired by the celebrated blood-horse ‘Gohanna,’ out of ‘Lady Alfred.’

     Mules are not raised to much extent in this county, although quite a number are used on the canals and at the furnaces, where they are considered superior to horses for bad roads and rough usage. They are mostly brought from Kentucky, where they are more profitably raised than horses. One gentleman in that State sold, last spring, one hundred head of three-year-old mules for $15,000, one third more than could be obtained for horse-colts of the same age.”

     Page 36 – Joseph PARKER of West Rupert, Bennington Co., VT, states: “The expense of keeping a colt the first winter is from 1½ to 2 tons of hay, valued at $7 per ton; the second winter 2 tons; the third winter 2½ tons, amounting $42. To this, add the pasturing, thirty weeks each season—the first year at 10 cents per week; the second 15 cents; and the third 20 cents per week, amounting to $13.50, making the cost of rearing, at three years old, $55.50. The average value of a horse here at three years old, is about $75. The Morgan horse is regarded by us as the most suitable for labor.”

     Joseph BOWDITCH of Fairfield, Franklin Co., VT, reports: “Most of our farmers keep a pair of horses; one, and sometimes both of which are breeding mares. They often do the entire work of the farm, while others share the work with oxen. It costs $40 to raise a colt to the age of three years, worth from $50 to $150 each. We are improving our breed of horses more than any other stock that we raise. Our best ones are of the Morgan and Black Hawk breeds.”

     H. W. LESTER of Rutland, Rutland Co., VT, gives this account: “The breeds of horses the most esteemed here are the Morgans and Black Hawks, which are generally sold at home from $100 to $150 each. The cost of raising varies from $30 to $100 per annum.” He then explains the difference in cost: “ the lower price...a colt may be kept on hay and grass with but little attention, except foddering in winter; the higher price is often fully expended when the colt is kept up through the year. The care of him requires half a man’s time; he is fed with the warm new milk of a good cow during the year, with a number of baked sweet-cakes daily, besides hay and oats, and is well groomed. Horses reared in this way ...are docile, very active, great travellers (sic), and for speed and bottom are not to be beat.”

     William SMOOT of Boone Court House, VA, writes: “Our horses are generally of the ‘scrub’ variety with a very little imported blood in them. They are generally raised more for farm use than otherwise. We feed them only in winter, which costs about $10 a head; the rest of the year they graze on our pastures, requiring nothing more than a little salt.”

(To be continued)

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